Incipia blog

How to Prepare for App Store Ads

Gabe Kwakyi | August 18, 2016

Feature image credit: While Apple's Store Search Ads don't yet have an announced launch date, fall (the closest official date we have) looms closer and Apple's experiment with opt-in beta app store ads has been going for near 2 months now. Today's post is a checklist of what you can do now to be fully prepared for the launch of App Store Search Ads. First - here's a quick summary of Search Ads; for a more in-depth review, check out our Search Ads post and our comparison of search ads vs app marketing channels.

  1. (So far) only one ad will be shown at a time in search results. According to a study by Splitmetrics, 57% of clicks can be captured by a search ad in the first app position.
  2. App store ads will be modeled off the well-known search advertising platforms Adwords and Bing Ads in terms of CPC bidding, ad relevance score, keyword bidding and targeting, as well as conversion optimization support.
  3. Search ads are currently in beta, available for any app to opt into and for iOS 10 users to see. Search Ads are currently completely off-limits in terms of management, but you will get some free installs in exchange for being Apple's guinea pig.
app store ads Image credit: Apple
  1. Spend some time upping your app page's CRO  game (conversion rate optimization).
    1. Run two different AB tests through Store Maven or Splitmetrics to optimize for impressions and product page views. What's the difference between these two metrics? While you can use Google Play experiments for free, oftentimes iOS users react to elements much differently than Android users and you may make a change that works for Android but not iOS; though testing with live iOS traffic now before you start spending money is better.
      1. Run a SERP (search engine results page) experiment to maximize your app's chances of getting a click when users search a keyword. Test your icon, title and first two screenshots.
      2. Run an on-page experiment with several variations of your app listing (all screenshots and description) to improve the conversion rate of page visitors into installers.
  2. Come up with a budget and goals. 
    1. Think about how much can you afford to dedicate to trying out this new advertising channel and come up with some target goals (CPI, ROI/ROAS, retention). Which KPI is right for my app? Know these data points so you can set appropriate budgets, bids and also so you will know whether your search ads are performing or not.
  3. Research what keywords you'll want to bid on.
    1. Use ASO tools like Mobile Action and AppTweak to identify keywords and track your ranks, and also pull in competitive keyword intel to figure out which keywords you'll want to target with search ads. Also, do some searches yourself, use a thesaurus, look at user reviews and actually ask your users which keywords they used to find your app.
  4. Power up your app with SDKs to improve your new user activation and retention rates.
    1. Check out these popular SDKs for optimizing your app's performance:
      1. Appseerecord videos of users - useful for optimizing your app's features and UX.
      2. AppBoy: a CRM system - useful for learning who your users and how they interact with your app.
      3. Apptimize: In-app content A/B testing system - useful for increasing user retention.
      4. Segment: Simplifies your integrations and requires less work to set them up.
  5. Stay tuned for news and announcements on app store ads.
    1. Naturally, Incipia will be covering news on app store search ads - you can easily follow along by signing up for our newsletter or bookmarking our blog.
    2. Other good news sources to tune into include:
      1. VentureBeat
      2. TechCrunch
      3. 9 to 5 Mac
      4. The Verge
      5. Search Engine Land
Lastly - if you don't have the in-house expertise or time to manage an app store ad campaign, you can hire an app marketing agency to set up and grow your search campaigns. Incipia's team counts over 12 years of search marketing experience that we can put to work for you. Contact us to discuss a marketing strategy for your app.

That's all for now folks! Thanks for reading - stay tuned to the Incipia blog or subscribe to our email list for more app store optimization tips, tricks and hacks. Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies with a development specialty in high-quality code architecture and keyword-based marketing optimizations. For blog/video or speaking requests, business or press inquiries please contact us at